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Black Comic Book Festival Celebrates Art Of Sci-Fi, Fantasy And Storytelling

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Bald, loc'd, cornrowed and afro'd superheroes made the pages come alive at The Schomburg Center's 8th annual Black Comic Book Festival.

Some 10,000 people in all are expected to attend during the festival using all the rooms and the library next door to accommodate the crowd, reports CBSN New York's Charlie Cooper.

"Literature can be a mirror and it can also be a window to another world, so we need black stories for black students and for all students and all people," said Brian Jones of Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The Black Comic Book festival features more than 40 vendors and a dozen panels that focus on fantasy, sci-fi and graphic novels among other things. The event brings creators, illustrators, writers and independent publishers together for two days of programming and events for fans.

"There's really this creative world that's just exploding right now," said Jones. "There's a hunger for the stories and honestly we are victims of our success in growing this festival. It's unbelievable."

"It makes me feel comfortable coming here instead of going somewhere to a comic con and not being able to pick out something or a hero that looks like me," said Aubri Morgan.

A place for big names and grassroots talent, the festival has cultivated a community of educators who bring their students to the Harlem event not only to thumb through whimsical pages, but to meet the creators and learn how the comics come together.

"That is more important because you feel the authenticity of this character and then you really see yourself in that character," said comic creator Cayln Pickens Rick.

"This history, these stories are essentially American stories," said cartoonist Joel Christian Gill. "Hip hop and baggy pants are just as American as apple pie and baseball."

"I'm proud to see that we have black superheroes," said Shallarh Frederick. "It makes me a lot more proud than I already am to just say that I'm black, and it gives us something else to look forward to in our culture."

People attending the event are encouraged to contribute to The Schomberg Center's growing collection of black independent comic books by bringing copies of old or new books from their home collection. All donations will become a part of The Schomburg's growing archive.

The event ends Saturday at 8 p.m. Registration for both days is free and is open to the public.

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